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New laws mean changes for new drivers and inmates in North Carolina

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — From time spent behind bars to time spent behind the wheel, in laws in 2012 are making sure that every hour counts. Two new laws that go into effect in January mean big changes from some procedures in the state. With one of the two laws, thousands of misdemeanor offenders could serve their time in local jails instead of a state prison if there’s room.

"It is to help elevate some of the population in D.O.C or the Department of Corrections in North Carolina," said New Hanover County Sheriff’s spokesman Sergeant Jerry Brewer. "To help elevate some of the over crowding that they have and also allow those inmates to serve in their own county."

This new law only applies to people who are charged with misdemeanor offenses and are sentences to terms of six months or less. Anyone else is not eligible for the new exemption.

"Any felon, any felony or a misdemeanor who has been convicted and charged with more than 180 days will have to go to the Department of Corrections," said Brewer.

Time spent behind the wheel is the focus of another law that goes into effect come 2012. New North Carolina drivers will now have to log a minimum of 60 hours before getting their driver’s license. Some of the soon-to-be drivers we talked to say they think the new rule goes too far.

"I think it’s kind of annoying. It’s a little bit too much enforcement, because we need a little more freedom like driving and stuff," said 15-year-old Maria Serrano. "I just think it’s a little bit ridiculous to have to keep a log of driving hours."

The driving log has to be signed by a supervising adult for the hours to count and ten of the hours must be driven at night. Although some people are not looking to the additional task, others say they think the driving log is just another responsibility that comes along with driving.

"My parents are like ‘Oh I have to drive you every where. Oh I’m the taxi’," said 15-year-old Madison Steveson. "It’s going to be a load off their shoulders for me to drive but it will also be a responsibility that I have to take on and I like that."

Although the two new laws are seemingly unconnected, it just goes to show that how time is spent matters to the state of North Carolina. To look over all the new laws that go into effect in the New Year click here.

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